GRP Limelights occur monthly and showcase members and/or people closely associated with the GRP Rowing & Skiing Teams.
Lynn Jennings was one of the first people I met at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Little did I know that the woman, who came out from the faded Duck Blind to find her dog, Towhee, staring at my dog, Tanka, was a current American record holder, a former world record holder, a medalist at the Olympics, and soon to be a course record holder at the Head of the Charles. All I knew then was she had an impeccably trained dog, a personable air about her, and a contagious smile.
In addition to her work on campus as the Running Camps Director, Lynn spent every day of the fall training with us and consequently became an honorary member of the Green Racing Project Rowing Team. She listened to every one of Coach Roock’s pre-row talks with the same sense of determination and dedication as every other rower in the group. She rowed with the focus of a first year walk on in college, striving to make the varsity. You never would have guessed that rowing was Lynn Jennings’ second sport.
So why do these two anecdotes matter? For starters, you can see Lynn’s athletic versatility and how the components of being a champion in one sport can lend itself to another. Lynn Jennings is already a champion in the running world. She won gold at the World Cross Country Championships in ’90, ’91, and ’92 (only two other women in the world have ever done this). She took bronze in the 10,000m race at the ’92 Olympics. In 1990, she set the world record in the 5000m indoor run. However, as of October 20th of this year, Lynn Jennings is also a rowing champion, winning the Women’s Grand-Master Single and setting a course record in the process. Granted, Lynn has rowed for about six years now with some regularity. Nonetheless, she beat out knowledgeable locals and Olympians in the sport to win in an athletic second language. When you meet such a person, one wants to take note of what makes him or her a champion.
Secondly, it’s relevant because of how she approaches her life. I may be sentimental or romantic, but I have high standards for the people that I revere. There are plenty of sports’ heroes in the history of the world, but there are few that do it without compromising integrity. This may sound heavy-handed, but in this day and age, many of our sports figures fall short of even relatively loose moral guidelines as they produce headlines about drug abuse, doping violations, infidelities, and misdemeanors. For me personally, Lynn epitomizes the ideal champion. She is highly competitive and extremely dedicated. She pours everything she has into each practice, making her a great student of whatever sport she does.
The amazing thing is that, while having these critical qualities, she still manages to maintain an upbeat and optimistic attitude. Granted, different people have different motivations. Some flourish with positivity, while others get their kicks from negative spurs. What’s remarkable about Lynn Jennings is that despite the perpetual, competitive fire that burns within her, she is not only a good sport immediately following any competition or practice, she is a downright peach. While I personally appreciate the challenge of countering an overly competitive lifestyle with a certain amount of levity, I am humbled by the grace with which Lynn balances her ambitions with her kindness of heart. In my opinion, her unique combination of being both a champion and an admirable, endearing person puts Lynn in the upper echelon of both competitors and people in general.
After the Head of the Charles, we bid a temporary farewell to Lynn Jennings. However, the GRP anxiously looks forward to the annual return of our running champion, rowing champion, and our teammate.